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  • THE LEFT-HAND ETUDES OF CAMILLE SAINT-SANS:

    AN ANALYTICAL STUDY OF STYLE AND SIGNIFICANCE

    An Honors Project submitted by

    a BM student in Piano Performance

    January 9, 2009

    Project Advisor:

    2009

  • Approval Sheet

    THE LEFT-HAND ETUDES OF CAMILLE SAINT-SANS:

    AN ANALYTICAL STUDY OF STYLE AND SIGNIFICANCE

    _______________________________ _______________________________

    Faculty Advisor Chair, Department of Music

    _______________________________

    Director, Honors Program

  • Special Acknowledgements

    To my outstanding advisor, for all of his time spent helping me.

    To for being a supportive friend every day.

    To my family, for understanding.

  • iv

    Table of Contents

    List of Music Examples v

    List of Tables vii

    Introduction 1

    Origin and History of Left-Hand Music 3

    Saint-Sans Compositional Style 12

    Background of Etudes 17

    Analysis of Op. 135 23

    Prlude 25

    Alla Fuga 30

    Moto Perpetuo 38

    Bourre 45

    lgie 52

    Gigue 59

    Conclusion 68

    Bibliography 71

  • v

    Examples

    Ex. 1 C. P. E. Bach: Klavierstck, mm. 1-4 p. 3

    Ex. 2 Moszkowski: Etude in E minor, Op. 92, No. 4, mm. 1-5 p. 7

    Ex. 3 C. P. E. Bach: Solfeggietto, mm. 1-2, arr. Parsons p. 8

    Ex. 4 Chopin: Etude in Eb minor, Op. 10, No. 6, mm. 1-2 p. 9

    Ex. 5 Godowsky: Etude in Eb minor, No. 3, mm. 1-2 p. 9

    Ex. 6 Czerny: Etude, Op. 365, No. 1, mm. 1-3 p. 18

    Ex. 7 Chopin: Etude, Op. 10, No. 1, mm. 1-5 p. 19

    Ex. 8 Saint-Sans: Prelude, Op. 52, No. 5, mm. 1-4 p. 20

    Ex. 9 Saint-Sans: Prlude, Op. 135, mm. 1-2 p. 25

    Ex. 10 Saint-Sans: Prlude, Op. 135, mm. 8-9 p. 26

    Ex. 11 Saint-Sans: Prlude, Op. 135, mm. 10-11 p. 26

    Ex. 12 Saint-Sans: Prlude, Op. 135, mm. 14-17 p. 27

    Ex. 13 Saint-Sans: Prlude, Op. 135, m. 25 p. 28

    Ex. 14 Saint-Sans: Prlude, Op. 135, mm. 33-34 p. 28

    Ex. 15 Saint-Sans: Alla Fuga, Op. 135, mm. 1-5 p. 31

    Ex. 16 Real answer (hypothetical) from Alla Fuga p. 31

    Ex. 17 Tonal answer from Alla Fuga p. 32

    Ex. 18 Saint-Sans: Alla Fuga, Op. 135, mm. 14-15 p. 32

    Ex. 19 Saint-Sans: Alla Fuga, Op. 135, mm. 21-25 p. 33

    Ex. 20 Saint-Sans: Alla Fuga, Op. 135, mm. 29-30 p. 33

    Ex. 21 Saint-Sans: Alla Fuga, Op. 135, mm. 35-36 p. 34

    Ex. 22 Saint-Sans: Alla Fuga, Op. 135, mm. 50-52 p. 34

    Ex. 23 Saint-Sans: Alla Fuga, Op. 135, mm. 58-61 p. 35

    Ex. 24 Saint-Sans: Alla Fuga, Op. 135, mm. 90-93 p. 36

    Ex. 25 Saint-Sans: Alla Fuga, Op. 135, mm. 105-110 p. 36

    Ex. 26 Saint-Sans: Moto Perpetuo, Op. 135, mm. 1-4 p. 40

    Ex. 27 Saint-Sans: Moto Perpetuo, Op. 135, mm. 117-118 p. 41

    Ex. 28 Saint-Sans: Moto Perpetuo, Op. 135, mm. 61-64 p. 41

    Ex. 29 Saint-Sans: Moto Perpetuo, Op. 135, mm. 20-22 p. 42

    Ex. 30 Saint-Sans: Moto Perpetuo, Op. 135, mm. 71-74 p. 42

    Ex. 31 Saint-Sans: Moto Perpetuo, Op. 135, mm. 113-116 p. 43

    Ex. 32 Saint-Sans: Moto Perpetuo, Op. 135, mm. 117-118 p. 43

    Ex. 33 Saint-Sans: Moto Perpetuo, Op. 135, mm. 144-149 p. 44

    Ex. 34 Saint-Sans: Bourre, Op. 135, mm. 1-4 p. 47

    Ex. 35 Saint-Sans: Bourre, Op. 135, mm. 9-12 p. 47

    Ex. 36 Saint-Sans: Bourre, Op. 135, mm. 33-36 p. 48

    Ex. 37 Saint-Sans: Bourre, Op. 135, mm. 41-45 p. 48

    Ex. 38 Saint-Sans: Bourre, Op. 135, mm. 61-65 p. 49

    Ex. 39 Saint-Sans: Bourre, Op. 135, mm. 157-158 p. 50

    Ex. 40 Saint-Sans: Bourre, Op. 135, mm. 186-190 p. 50

    Ex. 41 Saint-Sans: lgie, Op. 135, mm. 1-4 p. 53

    Ex. 42 Saint-Sans: lgie, Op. 135, mm. 3-4 p. 55

    Ex. 43 Saint-Sans: lgie, Op. 135, mm. 7-8 p. 55

  • vi

    Ex. 44 Saint-Sans: lgie, Op. 135, mm. 11-12 p. 56

    Ex. 45 Saint-Sans: lgie, Op. 135, mm. 13-14 p. 56

    Ex. 46 Saint-Sans: lgie, Op. 135, mm. 30-32 p. 57

    Ex. 47 Saint-Sans: lgie, Op. 135, mm. 57-59 p. 57

    Ex. 48 Saint-Sans: lgie, Op. 135, mm. 88-89 p. 58

    Ex. 49 J. S. Bach: French Suite No. 6, Gigue, mm. 1-3 p. 59

    Ex. 50 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 1-12 p. 61

    Ex. 51 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 16-18 p. 61

    Ex. 52 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 21-24 p. 62

    Ex. 53 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 32-36 p. 62

    Ex. 54 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 39-42 p. 63

    Ex. 55 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 49-52 p. 63

    Ex. 56 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 63-66 p. 64

    Ex. 57 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 71-73 p. 64

    Ex. 58 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 80-83 p. 65

    Ex. 59 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 88-92 p. 65

    Ex. 60 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 123-126 p. 66

    Ex. 61 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 153-156 p. 66

    Ex. 62 Saint-Sans: Gigue, Op. 135, mm. 169-174 p. 67

  • vii

    Tables

    Table 1 Alla Fuga overview p. 30

    Table 2 Alla Fuga and Moto Perpetuo key comparison p. 38

    Table 3 Form of Moto Perpetuo p. 40

    Table 4 Subsections of Bourre p. 46

    Table 5 Form of lgie p. 54

    Table 6 Form of Gigue p. 60

  • 1

    Introduction

    Unusual in its history and development, piano music for one hand alone is a

    relatively unknown genre for many pianists and other musicians. While such music is

    very practical for those pianists who are limited to the use of only one hand, it is

    functional for pianists of all ages and levels, whether or not they have incurred an injury.

    However, because of the seemingly large number of right-hand injuries to pianists, the

    most commonly found type of one-hand music is for the left hand alone. In addition to

    providing an opportunity for continued study in the event of an injury, left-hand music

    also develops technique for the pianist and challenges the composer in the limitations that

    it creates.

    Surprisingly, there are numerous works available for the left hand alone. As the

    genre of left-hand music became more prominent in the nineteenth and twentieth

    centuries, some of the better-known composers of the time, including Brahms, Ravel, and

    Scriabin, created their own left-hand pieces. In response, other lesser-known composers

    accepted the challenge of writing left-hand music as well. With so many composers

    adding to the left-hand repertoire, more pianists are now able to experience music for one

    hand, and the subject is gradually becoming less esoteric than in years past.

    Among the many composers who produced music for one hand is Camille Saint-

    Sans, a French pianist, organist, and composer whose works stem from the late

    nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Saint-Sans wrote more orchestral works than

    piano pieces, but he was quite renowned as a pianist during his lifetime, and most of his

    works for piano reflect his typical musical style. His Six etudes pour la main gauche

    seule, Op. 135, is his only composition for the left hand. Nevertheless, the work is

  • 2

    significant among the composers output, particularly through its neoclassical tendencies.

    In this work, Saint-Sans has effectively placed the technical challenges of one-handed

    etudes within the stylistic context of a Baroque dance suite. In combination, these

    qualities make the pieces unusual in composition and deserving of further study and

    analysis.

    This study will specifically discuss these six etudes for the left hand. It will

    present not only the general characteristics and history of left-hand music, but also the

    background of the Op. 135 etudes and an overview of the life, compositional style, and

    musical influences of Saint-Sans. The crux of the project will include a detailed musical

    analysis of Op. 135, illustrating the significance of the etudes both individually and as a

    set.1

    1 In addition, I will be presenting a thirty-minute lecture-recital in conjunction with my written project. For

    the lecture-recital, I will discuss each of the six pieces based on the analysis to follow, and I will perform

    five of the etudes in their entirety (omitting one due to time restraints). The lecture-recital will be

    approximately divided equally between performing the Op. 135 etudes and presenting an expanded

    overview of my project.

  • 3

    Origin and History of Left-Hand Music

    Keyboard music for one hand dates back to the early 1700s. One of the earliest

    pieces for one hand is C. P. E. Bachs Klavierstck in A major.2 This piece, which

    resembles a gigue, is moderately easy and can be played by either the left hand or the

    right hand alone; if played by the left hand, then it is recommended to be played an

    octave lower (see Example 1).3

    Many of the early one-hand keyboard pieces such as this example could be played on

    either the harpsichord or the organ. The first published left-hand piece written

    specifically for the piano comes from Ludwig Bergers Studies, Op. 12, which were

    published in 1820.4

    The expansion of the repertoire of one-hand piano music that followed can be